Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - November 26, 2010

Pleasanton names new Teen Poets Laureate

'Writing makes everything more beautiful, even the painful parts of life' says Teen Poet Laureate Vivian Tsai

The city of Pleasanton has selected high school seniors Vivian Tsai of Foothill High School and Mitch Grimes of Amador Valley High School as its new Teen Poets Laureate. At the same time, Amador Valley High student Noelle Malindzak has been designated as Teen Poet Laureate-Community Programs.

"This year we selected the teens from an outstanding pool of junior and senior candidates at Pleasanton high schools," said Pleasanton Poet Laureate Deborah Grossman. "We have added the position of Teen Poet Laureate-Community Programs to broaden our program's reach to more teens who are interested in writing and to coordinate community teen poetry programs with the Teen Poets Laureate and literary groups at both Amador Valley and Foothill High Schools."

"Noelle will partner with Mark Duncanson, city of Pleasanton senior recreation program specialist for teen programs, to develop teen open mic and other events," she added.

The selection was based on the quality of their essays about their goals for the program, their poems, their references and their interviews.

Teen Poet Laureate Vivian Tsai came to Pleasanton from Taiwan. She entered Pleasanton Middle School in the seventh grade as a student in the English Language Learners program. During the eighth grade, she transferred to standard English classes and wrote her first poem in English.

"Through poetry and literature, we are able to see not only the reflection of ourselves, but also that of the outer world. Writing makes everything more beautiful, even the painful parts of life," said Tsai.

She is active in the We the People program and the DECA business club at Foothill and is a member of the Foothill Science Olympiad.

Mitch Grimes has written poetry since the sixth grade when he also began playing guitar. He is the leader and songwriter of his band, "Unholy Grail." Grimes attended Mohr Elementary and Harvest Park Middle School and supports various community service programs throughout the year.

"As Teen Poet Laureate, I want to show students how writing can be a great way to release feelings by putting them down on paper," Grimes said.

Noelle Malindzak is a native Pleasantonian who attended Alisal Elementary and Harvest Park Middle School. She participates in golf, soccer and basketball and is a Pleasanton Youth Commissioner as well as a participant in the DECA business club and other programs. Writing is an important outlet for her.

"Writing is a way for me to take a break from social drama and courses like calculus and physics and reflect on my day and relax with a poem," said Malindzak. "I want to increase the number of kids who know about the different events and get people excited about poetry and the literary arts."

"We look forward to hearing their poetry and seeing how Mitch, Vivian and Noelle inspire Pleasanton students," Grossman said.

The purpose of the Teen Poet Laureate program is to promote writing among students at their high schools and beyond. The Teen Poets Laureate make occasional visits to schools in the Pleasanton Unified School District with the Pleasanton Poet Laureate plus they participate in the Pleasanton Poetry, Prose & Arts Festival in March and help plan community-wide poetry programs during the school year.

For information about the Poet Laureate program, contact Michelle Russo at or 931-4847 or Deborah Grossman at Additional information about the Poet Laureate program is available at


Posted by Pam Grimes, a resident of Mohr Park
on Nov 28, 2010 at 7:14 am

Congratulations to the new teen Poets Laureate!! Looking forward to seeing their
work and contributions to the literary and musical arts!

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